Below, an Arlington reckless driving lawyer discusses where reckless driving cases in Arlington, Virginia are typically heard and what someone should expect from the criminal process. To learn more call today and schedule a free consultation with an attorney.If you’re charged with reckless driving in Arlington, the case will first be heard in a general district court traffic division which is located on the third floor of the courthouse. A judge will hear your case, there is no jury trial in General District Court. A prosecutor will be present, as well as the arresting officer. In that courtroom you will either enter a plea, the Commonwealth will dismiss, or you will have a “bench” (non-jury) trial.
If you are unhappy with that outcome, you have a right to appeal that conviction to the circuit court which is on the tenth floor of the Arlington County Courthouse. And there, an individual charged of reckless driving has a right to a jury trial or a bench trial or may take a plea in the circuit court. If you appeal to Circuit Court your case is heard “de novo” meaning that it is as if the first trial never took place.
If you are charged with reckless driving, you’ll be required to come to court on a date usually assigned by the arresting officer. On that first appearance in general district court, judges in Arlington will expect you to have either hired or an attorney or be ready to proceed to trial that day without one. Don’t expect your case to be easily continued as the judges in Arlington value expediency in working cases through the system.
Once you go to trial or even if you take a plea, you have the right to appeal that outcome to the circuit court within ten days of your conviction. In Circuit court the defendant can demand a jury trial, or can have a new trial with a different judge before. They are also still able to plead guilty to either an agreed sentence with the prosecutor or “straight up” to the judge and argue sentence.
Arlington prosecutors and judges treat reckless driving very seriously because by definition it endangers other people on the road. One of the goals of the prosecutor is to protect the public, and by stopping reckless drivers before they get into a terrible accident is one way to that.
For that reason, punishments are often heavy in Arlington. In addition to high fines and license suspensions, the courts will sometimes even impose active jail time for Reckless Driving conviction. Someone who is caught speeding at a level of 90 miles per hour or above should most likely expect to spend some amount of time in jail.
That’s not necessarily different than most jurisdictions, but it is something to be aware if you are charged with that offense.